Culture Types (Deal and Kennedy)

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Distinguishing four generic types of corporate culture. Explanation of Culture Types of Deal and Kennedy. (1982)

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Culture Types (Deal and Kennedy)What are Culture Types? Description

Terrence Deal and Allan Kennedy were among the first to write about corporate culture. In their 1982 book Corporate Cultures: The Rites and Rituals of Corporate Life, they define organizational culture as the way things get done around here.


Deal and Kennedy argue corporate culture is based on an interlocking of six elements: history, values and beliefs, rituals and ceremonies, stories, heroic figures and the informal cultural network of storytellers, gossipers, whisperers, spies and priests. Their Culture Types model distinguishes four corporate culture types, based on two elements:

  • Feedback Speed: How quickly are feedback and rewards provided (through which the people are told they are doing a good or a bad job).
  • Degree of Risk: The level of risk taking (degree of uncertainty).

The combination of these two elements results in four types of corporate cultures:

  1. Tough-Guy Macho Culture (Fast feedback and reward, high risk):
    • Stress results from the high risk and the high potential decrease or increase of the reward.
    • Focus on now, individualism prevails over teamwork.
    • Typical examples: advertising, brokerage, sports.
  2. Work-Hard, Play-Hard Culture (Fast feedback and reward, low risk):
    • Stress results from quantity of work rather than uncertainty.
    • Focus on high-speed action, high levels of energy.
    • Typical examples: sales, restaurants, software companies.
  3. Process Culture (Slow feedback and reward, low risk):
    • Stress is generally low, but may come from internal politics and stupidity of the system.
    • Focus on details and process excellence.
    • Typical examples: bureaucracies, banks, insurance companies, public services.
  4. Bet-Your-Company Culture (Slow feedback and reward, high risk):
    • Stress results from high risk and delay before knowing if actions have paid off.
    • Focus on long-term, preparation and planning.
    • Typical examples: pharmaceutical companies, aircraft manufacturers, oil prospecting companies.

Book: Terrence E. Deal, Allan A. Kennedy - Corporate Cultures: The Rites and Rituals of Corporate Life (1982) -

Book: Terrence E. Deal, Allan A. Kennedy - The New Corporate Cultures (2000) -


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Compare with Culture Types: Levels of Culture  |  Changing Organization Cultures  |  Cultural Dimensions  |  Groupthink  |  Core Group Theory  |  Contingency Theory  |  Change Management Iceberg  |  Change Phases  |  Force Field Analysis  |  Planned Behavior  |  Leadership Continuum  |  Cultural Intelligence


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